This article from Edutopia discusses how establishing Habits of Mind before academic or curriculum based learning can have greater benefits to the more effective learning.
Listening to others with Userstanding and Empathy
Thinking about our Thinking (metacognition)
Striving for Accuracy and Precision
Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
Gathering Data through All Senses
Creating, Imagining and Innovating
Responding with Wonderment and Awe
Taking Responsible Risks
This RSA Animate video, “Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us”, from Dan Pink clearly challenges the transactional approach to motivation that we find in education. In behaviour management, raising standards or in staff management the motivating phrase usually begins, “If you do this then…” or the corollary, “If you don’t do this then.” This has led to the insane situation where we now offer cash incentives to students so that they will try to do better in their exams. Teachers who stay in the profession for the moral purpose are condemned for not trying harder for the money. Many teachers use complex extrinsic reward systems to encourage children to work hard, be kind or even to eat their school dinner.
This video shares research which shows that people actually do worse when they are presented with the transaction to try harder for greater reward. Unless it is a mechanical, low cognition task then people do worse when they are offered greater rewards. This makes sense from a natural point of view. Babies and young children are instinctively motivated to learn and explore but when they arrive in school they are offered rewards to learn. Is this because educators don’t actually believe that what they are providing would be motivating?
In the video Dan Pink suggests that there are three things more motivating than money: autonomy, mastery and purpose. If we can bring these to our school and into the lives of the children then perhaps motivation won’t be our challenge anymore.
These statements are taken from Learner Voice, a handbook by Futurelab
• letting learners know why something is important to learn
• showing learners how to direct themselves through information
• relating the topic to the learners’ own experiences and background
• understanding learners will not learn effectively until they are ready and motivated to do so
• helping learners to overcome inhibitions, behaviours and beliefs that may represent a barrier to their effective learning.
Richard Millwood has developed his thinking from the New Learning Landscape into an analysis of delight. He defines various loves that can be enlivened through learning. It seems the next challenge is agreeing that learning is the purpose rather than future economic prosperity and then second considering how we communicate to ALL learners that this love is for sale.
I have wondered whether buying 30 Nintendo DS would be a good idea for a daily mental maths development with Professor Kageyama’s Maths Training. I thought if there were quick mental maths questions wrapped in the alternative package of a Nintendo DS then maybe we might raise table knowledge or quick calculation. Children can also compete in groups of 15 which is also interesting. This review http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=92874 isn’t too complimentary because it says it could have been more entertaining. Will it last just long enough to keep the children motivated until their maths improves?
I had wondered whether to give children The Hundred Cell Calculation Method on paper might do the same job for less.
This article from the GLEF presents the case for beginning with real world purposes instead of the abstract knowledge needed to create or develop in the future. Quoting Seymour Papert, “So much better to have the first-grade kid or kindergarten kid doing engineering and leave it to the older ones to do pure mathematics than to do it the other way around”.
It then presents the kind of activities seen in the Futurelabs/Microsoft Project Enquiring Minds which lead learners through their own self directed projects towards answering their own questions. We have been thinking about providing space in our curriculum for this kind of project but with some specific teaching to scaffold this approach according to the independence of different learners.